Brushing our teeth is something that we often take for granted. It’s a habit that we develop as children, so by the time we reach adulthood and have children of our own; it’s something we do on autopilot. I don’t know about you, but the only time I have to think about my brushing habit actively is when I run out of toothpaste. Getting our kids to do the same is more of a challenge. What are some clever ways to get your kids to brush their teeth?
Be a Good Example
As parents, we tell our kids to do as we say rather than as we ut it rarely works that way in real life. Kids are happy to mimic what we do. If you’re trying to convince your kids to brush their teeth, the easiest way to accomplish this task is to brush your own teeth. Make it a family affair. Everyone should come together in the morning and again in the evening to brush their teeth together as a family. You may find that they fight it for the first couple of weeks, but the habit will start to sink in after a while. You may find that a family tooth-brush is a fun and relaxing way to start and end your day.
Pick The Right Size Brush
Looking at the toothbrush display at your local Walmart may convey the mistaken impression that toothbrushes are once-size-fits-all., but when was the last time you saw a kid with an adult-sized mouth? And no, I’m not talking about how much noise they can make. Instead, ensure you’re getting the right size brush for their little mouths to ensure that they’re brushing effectively and aren’t uncomfortable with the size.
Read Them a Book
We all love to share our favorite stories with our kids, but storytime can also be an excellent tool for getting your kids to understand why they need to take care of their teeth — and how to accomplish that task. Many of these books follow their favorite characters and may even have places for your little ones to interact with the story or insert themselves into the narrative.
Put It To Music
Dance party! What better way to make an otherwise tedious task exciting than by adding music? According to the American Dental Association, your kid should be brushing their teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day. Most songs are at least two minutes long, so pop in some music, crank the volume, and dance it out while you brush. If they get into it, you’ll quickly hit that two-minute mark. Just make sure they’re actually brushing their teeth and not using their toothbrush as a microphone to live out their rock star dreams.
Invest in a Fancy Toothbrush
Sometimes, sensory issues may make it more challenging to get your kids to brush. For example, maybe they hate the taste of the toothpaste, or the feel of the brush on their tongue makes them gag. If that is the case, it may be time to invest in a fancy toothbrush. In 2018, the brand Amabrush introduced a toothbrush that cleans teeth and gums in 10 seconds by brushing all of your teeth at the same time. Instead of fighting with them over that two-minute time limit, consider alternatives that might make your job a little easier while ensuring that your kids are still cleaning their teeth.
Offer Them Some Incentives
Did you know that only 64% of adults get an annual dental checkup every year? Kids tend to have more fun at the dentist’s office than adults do since these professionals will often offer incentives like stickers or small toys as a reward for good dental hygiene. Adults don’t get that perk, but there’s no reason that the incentives should stop when you’re not at the office. Offer your kids small incentives to brush their teeth twice a day. These could be stickers or small objects, or they could save up a month’s worth of tokens and use them to get a larger item. The possibilities are endless — it’s just up to you and your imagination.
Make It A Game
Why so serious? While dental hygiene is an important habit and an essential part of a healthy life, it doesn’t need to be dull or dour. Make it a game. Maybe whoever gets into the bathroom first to brush their teeth in the morning gets a bonus token on your incentive chart or first pick of where they want to sit in the car on the way to school. Maybe a twice-a-day brushing streak means that your kid “levels up” as they might in a video game, earning more screen time or other privileges as a reward. Gamifying your life is a fun way to turn boring or mundane tasks into something that everyone will look forward to, even if they don’t enjoy the act of brushing.
Build Your Routine
Sometimes, all it takes is building a routine and sticking to it long enough to become a habit. It can take anywhere from 18 to 245 days for a habit to become permanent, but on average, if you stick to it for 66 days, your new behavior will start to become automatic. So work on building that routine with your kids. It might take longer than 66 days, especially if you consider how changeable kids can be, but it’s worth it to help them build that habit that will help them protect their dental health for the rest of their life.
They say as a parent, you should pick your battles, but when it comes to dental hygiene, there’s no space to back down. Work with your kids and figure out what works for them so they can protect their dental hygiene and ensure that their teeth stay healthy — at least until they move out and have to make their own dentist’s appointments.